Sunday, January 22, 2006

Aslan is a not a Christ-figure

I finally caught the Narnia flic, and after scratching my head as to whether I saw the same movie as all the kind reviewers, I found a kindred moviegoer in Anthony Lane's review in the NYer:
Lewis lovers must squabble among themselves. I cannot join the party, having missed out on Narnia as a child. I was busy elsewhere, up to my armpits in hobbits, and starting to ask hard questions about the sexual longevity of elves. When, as a grownup, I finally opened “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” it struck me as woefully thin soil, with none of the gnarled roots of lore and language on which Tolkien thrived. If the movie has to forgo Lewis’s narrative tone, with its grimly Oxonian blend of the bluff and the twee (“And now we come to one of the nastiest things in this story”), that is fine by me. And, if there is Deep Magic, as Lewis called it, in his tale, it resides not in the springlike coming of Aslan but in the dreamlike, compacted poetry of Lewis’s initial inspiration—the sight of a faun, in the snow, bearing parcels and an umbrella.
If the movie's Aslan came anywhere close to representing C.S. Lewis', then I think I've finally found my good doctrinal reason for not liking Lewis: bad Christology.

Aslan is not even compelling as a movie hero, much less as as Christ-figure. For example, to allegorize Christ's scourging, Aslan got a bad hair cut by lawn gnomes brought to life. Puhlease. Mel's Braveheart cut a more Passionful Christ-figure than the movie's Aslan. In the end, he's just an all-powerful, sacrificial hero-type with a mean, toothy roar. That's not even the half of the true Christ, with a far more intriguing Trinitarian persona at work in the Gospels. Then again, Western Christianity has always been far less interested in the Sub-apostolic and Patristic understanding of Christ's Trinitarian identity.

Christ, without any conscious reference to a Person from Whom he was begotten, is a Christ for the heretics. It is not the Christ of the Gospels, nor a Christ of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. But I'm probably making too much of Lewis' Aslan. Of course Aslan was not presented intentionally as an anti-Trinitarian Christ, by either Lewis or the filmmakers. For the kids, that's fine. For adults, especially adult Christians who take Christological doctrine seriously, Aslan is a big disappointment. Yeah, yeah, I need to read the book before I judge too harshly. But that won't happen till I have me some kids of my own to read to sleep.